Centre announces job quotas, upper age relaxation norms for Agniveers


Union ministries of Defence, Home and Shipping on Saturday announced individual schemes to absorb post-service Agniveers in their respective organisations even as overall protests went down a notch.

But violent incidents continued with youth damaging railway stations in Bihar and Punjab and blocking roads and highways in States such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, in another damage control exercise, on Saturday, decided to reserve 10 per cent of vacancies in his ministry for ‘Agniveers’. The 10 per cent reservation will be implemented in the Indian Coast Guard and defence civilian posts, and all the 16 Defence PSUs, such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), the Defence Ministry stated. 
The reservation for Agniveers is in addition to the existing quota for ex-servicemen.

“Necessary amendments to relevant recruitment rules will be undertaken to implement these provisions,” the Defence Minister’s office tweeted. Required age relaxation provision will also be made, it pointed out.

Home Minister Amit Shah also announced on Saturday morning that 10 per cent post-service reservation and age relaxation for Agniveers in Central armed police forces and Assam Rifles. The quota to Agniveers is in addition to the existing reservation available to ex-servicemen for contractual appointments of three years in CAPFS, such as CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF and SSB, MHA sources told BusinessLine.

The National Security Guards, however, does not have its own cadre and has a workforce drawn on deputation from other armed forces, police as well as other CAPFs, pointed out a senior officer of NSG.

 “The MHA also decides to give 3 years age relaxation beyond the prescribed upper age limit to Agniveers for recruitment in CAPFs & Assam Rifles. Further, for the first batch of Agniveer, the age relaxation will be for five years beyond the prescribed upper age limit,” Shah said in one of his posts..

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways, too, chipped in with six attractive service avenues for smooth transition of Agniveers in various roles of the Merchant navy, post their stint with the navy. 

The eligible age for recruitment for Agniveers is 17.5 to 21. The Ministry of Defence, however,  gave a one-time waiver by relaxing the upper limit to 23 since no selection took place for the last two years due to the covid pandemic. Aspiring candidates are protesting demanding that those persons who have either already qualified or are mid-way recruitment process should have been given preference before initiating the Agnipath scheme.  

The youth against whom cases have been registered for violence would find it difficult to get a placement in the armed forces. Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari warned in his fresh round of media interviews on Saturday that “those caught indulging in violence will not get clearance in police verification, if selected”.

Violence-hit states

In Bihar, where opposition political parties and some other organisations had called a strike on Saturday to agitate against the Agnipath scheme, the agitators set ablaze Taregana railway station in Masaurhi sub-division of Patna district. 

Similarly, over 50 youth damaged property inside Ludhiana railway station in Punjab, while the protesters set a vehicle on fire outside Mahendergarh railway station.

The agitation crippled public transport in many parts of the country. The Railway Ministry said 369 trains, including 210 mail/express and 159 locals, were cancelled on Saturday. The figure of total number of affected trains was, though, higher (371) given that the Railways has also partially cancelled two mail/express trains, said officials.

In Bihar , 32 trains were cancelled, stated the Railways’ East Central zone, which is headquartered in Hajipur.
Law enforcement agencies believe that prospective candidates’ anger  may not be entirely spontaneous as administration in Bihar and Telangana have identified Whatsapp groups, in some cases run by coaching centres, which were used to incite youth. 

Telangana police arrested Subbarao, who owned Sai Defence Academy, for instigating youth through “Hakimpet army soldiers” group on the social media platform. District Magistrate of Patna Chandrashekhar Singh told the local media they were probing the role of 7-8 coaching centres in provoking job aspirants to protest and 46 have been arrested for vandalism at Danapur railway station after registering an FIR against 170 people.

 The prospective aspirants, however, continue to draw political support, with Congress working president Sonia Gandhi, who is admitted in a hospital, assuring them that her party will fight for withdrawal of the Agnipath scheme.

Published on

June 18, 2022

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